“Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”
Mary Theresa Schmich, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”
The following are some of the best simple and straight-forward advice given to the humankind by some of history’s greatest men and women. So straight-forward, they sounded like instructions that we ought to abide and follow in order to make the best out of this life. And yet so simple, it is almost impossible not to do so.
Be kind, honest and happy.
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” – Mother Teresa
Enough said. Being kind, honest and happy is a commitment to yourself and not to anybody else. We don’t stop being kind because people around us are unkind, we don’t stop being honest because people around us are dishonest, we don’t stop to be happy because people around us are unhappy. We are kind because we commit ourselves to serve others, to be a blessing to others. We are honest because it is the right thing to do regardless of how people would react to it. We are happy because we choose to look at the bright side of things, to be grateful for every small gift life brings us.
Be as you wish to seem.
This one-liner from Socrates is all about being who you want to be and living the life you always wanted. He urges every one of us to live according to our vision, to take the necessary actions to turn that vision into our present, our reality.
Be the change.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Although I just learned that this wonderful one-line quote wasn’t actually Gandhi’s—there is no confirmed evidence that Gandhi did utter these words—after falling in love with it for a long time, I don’t deny that it resonates with me. It’s a powerful statement that every one of us should heed: that in order to change the world, we have to change ourselves first. As one of us evolves, the world evolves with him/her. Anyway, this is Gandhi’s take on this subject:
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
“Be curious. Not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman
One of the many gems you can find from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, these simple and yet potent words of wisdom remind us to be curious, to dig for the extraordinary and not fall prey to the mundane. We are all born curious, with the natural hunger for knowledge and understanding, with inherent thirst for finding beauty beyond the unknown. I don’t know when and how these needs disappear. Too much information? Too many experiences? Or does our society teach us to be more judgmental than curious? While curiosity is equivalent to infinity, being judgmental only means stopping. We stop to learn, to discover, to explore, to expand.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Another great life advice from a great poet and theologian Rumi reflects our need to grow, to find the infinite within us. This is his more vulgar way of saying that we all must leave our comfort zones, learn new things and be good at them. This is a challenge he posed for everyone: for the meek and the brave, the follower and the rebel, for the tame and the wild ones.
Be at peace.
“When the road lies before you seems a mystery to you and you know that you are out there on your own, when you have so many choices and you’re not sure what to do, be at peace, for God is there. You are not alone.” – Amanda Bradley
I think we all need this kind of reassurance. It is comforting to know that we are not alone in this struggle called life. That there is someone beside us, holding our hands, never letting go. That there is something bigger than any problem we encounter or any mistake we commit. That at the end of the day, everything is okay.
Fear is inevitable. I have my fears, you have your own and that is okay. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is rather a by-product of it. Without fear, courage is an impossibility. Just like darkness to light, one ceases to exist without the other. Where fear lies, courage resides. Be afraid, cower in fear, but never give in. Recognize that small voice of courage and allow it to show itself whenever the need arises. Be brave.
“Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.” – Regina Brett
This one is really cute. It reminds us that the only life we have is now so why not make the most of it. Savor every second of it doing things you love. Be crazy in your own sweet time. We all need it anyway.
Be nobody but yourself.
“To be nobody—but yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e.e. cummings
There is no better way to get through life than being our own selves. Knowing our evolving selves and embracing it wholeheartedly—the good with the bad—is one the greatest wisdom we could ever achieve in this lifetime. It is also the best way to show our gratitude to the one who makes all things possible.
Be your excellent self today.
“Be your excellent self today by creating a beautiful mosaic from yesterday’s broken pieces.” – Dodinsky
We must learn how to get up, put ourselves back together and love the new and better version of us. With every challenge, we grow. With every falling down, we raise one step higher. With every difficulty, we become stronger. It’s a process we must endure.
images from Pinterest.com